Former Head of Android Mobile Business Left Google After Behavior Complaint

  • Android chief departed in 2014, launched phone startup in 2017
  • Essential says Rubin took leave to deal with personal matters
Google's Interoffice Relationships May Be Problematic

Andy Rubin, the former head of Google’s Android mobile business, left the company in 2014 after an accusation of inappropriate behavior, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. 

Rubin’s exit didn’t prevent Google from funding his subsequent business. The Alphabet Inc. unit was one of the marquee investors behind Playground Global LLC, a tech incubator Rubin formed in 2015. Google declined to comment on Wednesday.

Andy Rubin

Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Rubin has taken a leave of absence from Essential, a consumer hardware startup he launched earlier this year. "At our last regularly scheduled board meeting earlier in November, Andy asked for a leave of absence to deal with personal matters," Essential spokeswoman Shari Doherty said in a statement. "The Board agreed and our President, Niccolo de Masi, will continue to run day to day operations at Essential."

The Information reported earlier that an internal Google investigation determined Rubin had carried on an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. The company initiated its investigation after an employee complained to Google’s human resources department about her relationship with Rubin, the report said.

“Any relationship that Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual and did not involve any person who reported to him," a spokesman for Rubin wrote in an emailed statement. "Mr. Rubin was never told by Google that he engaged in any misconduct while at Google and he did not, either while at Google or since.”

Several powerful men in technology, media, politics and finance have stepped down this year after either admitting, or being accused of, harassment and other misconduct. This week, NBC fired Matt Lauer, after a colleague accused the Today Show co-host of sexual misconduct.

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